- Help Which Math Curriculum Should I use is a post from Bekki @ A Better Way to Homeschool where we learn to train our children to become lifelong learners. If you have enjoyed this post, be sure to enter your email in the box on the right and to follow Bekki on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+!
Math for the Lifelong Learner
(25 Minute Video Filled with Ideas)
I only taught in a small school for 3 years, but I was blessed to work with 5th and 6th graders. The Lord then called me home to homeschool my then 5th grader (my oldest son). I was shocked that most of my classroom kids did not know their facts. It made teaching scale measurements, conversions, and algebra a nightmare to teach. Simple lessons that should take about 20-30 minutes were murder for them to complete.
The bigger shock was when I sat with my own son and realized he too lacked these math facts...
After eating a big piece of humble pie we had to double time it. I had to teach him his math facts and teach him his math concepts. It was horrible. He's 20 now and a sophomore in college and both he and I agree those first two years of homeschooling were awful!
Fast forward to today. I have 4 more sons ages 15, 11, 9, and 7. My 15 year old did twice as well as my oldest with his facts, but he still had holes until 6th grade.(I honestly found a small math class for him to attend because he is a different kind of learner than I am and we could not sync in the area of math.)
Here's the benefit if having two guinea pigs kids... My 3 musketeers.
Although I still use curriculum, I spend much more time with almost a drill and kill mentality with their facts. I learned that important truth a few years ago...
You can teach a 13 year old in a day almost anything that they are ready to absorb.
That translates to other subjects as well ( like reading). So many of us try to teach first grade, third grade etc, rather than teaching the child, don't you think?
So how do you teach math facts?
You need to look at your child (if you have more than one, you need to study them separately. They'll likely be very unique).
How old are they? Do they learn by seeing, hearing, or doing? I've linked to a great site on the different ways kids learn here.
There are a bazillion ways to learn and practice the facts. They really need to be memorized. Sorry. Now way around this one. The only was to practice is to do over, and over, and over again.
Examine your Own Math Mentality
- Do you hate math? Do you voice that to your children? Does math confuse you? Do you say things like, "I never could do math well," rather than, "Hmmm, I do not remember how to do this right now, I guess my brain gets to exercise!"Many homeschoolers do not feel qualified to teach math, that's OK. Instead learn it together!
Purpose to Speak Positively about Math
- "Math is everywhere!"
- "I'm glad I know how to add because that means I know _____."
- "I like the challenge of math!"
- You get the idea.
Get Help if you really Do Not Understand
- When you hit a math wall and simply cannot solve it in order to explain it to your child, seek help. Tell your student you need to have someone explain it to you. Affirm that there is always someone who is willing to help if you are humble enough to ask. Our kids need to see us ask for help! Here is a great online help for you and your kids.
Practical Ideas (Here are some of my favorite math things:)
Writing fact families:
(addition/subtraction and multiplication/division)
Be creative with where and how they write their facts:
- dry eraser markers on windows and mirrors
- sidewalk chalk
- writing on sandpaper
- using magnetic numbers on fridge
Drill gamesWe do drill games kind of like "mother may I". Call out math questions, if they get it right then they take a step forward.If they get it wrong, take a step back. If they start counting to the answer they stand still.
Use anything from blocks and pattern tiles, Cheerios, M&M's, and play games. You grab 5 and I'll give you 12 more, how many?
If I make 4 groups of 3, how many will there be all together?
Here are handfuls of snacks... divide them into 6 separate zip-lock baggies evenly.
Note: Give kids time to explore manipulatives without giving them guidelines. I always let my kids "play" with new manipulatives a week or two before I use them in a lesson.
The frustration in teaching math comes from a few things:
Our own attitude.
Curriculum causes so many issues. We feel our kids need to "get it" and be able to move forward from concept to concept. Page 27 means nothing. It's like expecting a child to read a book but they only know 11 letters and sounds of the alphabet. Remember curriculum is a tool, not the goal.
*Establish a clear math goal (or set of goals) for your student and use the curriculum to help you get there. That may mean you skip pages, even chapters of the book!
What about how well my kiddo is doing compared to yours? Shouldn't my child be a grade level? I feel like a failure because I barely can complete the fourth grade math book without an answer key!
Guilt binds us. We need to release it. Curriculum doesn't teach our kids. We teach our kids and we sometimes use curriculum to teach them;).
Work on facts daily.
Print a bunch of math fact drill sheets and do timed drills (if they at least tolerate them I have one child that drills devastate. for some reason a timed drill shuts his brain down.)
Measure things with rulers, measuring tapes, straws, bananas
Go to the store and pretend (or really buy) as many things as possible with $100.
Lastly, it is important to remember that not all of our kids are destined to be mathematicians. That's OK. But everyone needs their facts down:).Focus on the basics and build your math program around fundamentals. Don't rush your young children. If they master their facts they will be well ahead of their peers in the end!Was this helpful? Do you have any questions or concerns? Ideas? Suggestions? I love hearing from you!